I met him on Cinco de Mayo and I've been meaning to write about him since that fateful night... I think of Phyllis often. Every time I get in my car and see the dirt and hay he left behind; each time I smell an assy cigarette; whenever I see a lime; often; many times a day; I am very fond of him. (I know, improper semi-colon usage. I give.)
The ghost of Cinco de Mayo, Phyllis was.
I honestly couldn't have found a more troublesome person to partner with than this guy. I swear. Bless his stinkin' heart. We were perfect for each other. I don't even remember meeting him. I do remember his silouette floating towards me on the dance floor. I was holding myself up with the rail, probably half dancing while spilling my cocktail all over myself. And here comes a bushy head of hair (the epitome of a rat's nest), boots, a somewhat filled-in beard, and a jacket, you know, like a suit coat. And, of course, Phyllis' trademark: his fucking death rattle.
He owns the death rattle.
So then we had this conversation telepathically:
Fantasma: You're pretty.
Fantasma: What? (death rattle death rattle.) Why is that funny? You're the prettiest girl in here.
Me: What's my name?
Fantasma: I don't know your name. (pause) And I never will.
Truer words have never been never-spoken. So I think there were some introductions, some dancing, probably some drinking, and then a decision to leave. Upon leaving I (at least) had the good sense to ask someone sober, whom I trust, "Do you know this person? Is he safe?" Sober, trusted friend looked more terrified than usual and then suddenly relieved. Laughing, he rhetorically asked "Why? It's not like you're going home with him?" I patted said friend's back reassuringly and walked out the door.
"Phyllis. We have to go to my brother's house. I can't go home with you."
Needless to say, a series of events happened that are both too hysterical and too fuzzy to recount. Eventually Phyllis would disappear into the night... just like the ghost of Cinco de Mayo should (well, and had to, considering my brother did kick him out.) Okay, it's too good of a story.....
We had some beer. I don't know how or why... wait, Phyllis Diller is Fantasma so, obviously, we have Tecate. I remember (and my brother will totally back me up on this one) as we were standing in the kitchen, I was sooo excited because there was cold Tecate! I was THRILLED, jumping up and down, here here here (imagine me passing the beer around), and then... me, deflated, "Ahhh.... if only we had a lime."
Four people in the kitchen silently looking at each other and then...
Fantasma: "Oh. I have one." He reached in his pocket and pulled out a lime. A real lime! Then his death-rattle-death-rattle-laugh confirmed he was just as surprised as all of us ... "Well it is Cinco de.... sha sha sha." ...As he floats into the other room. Maybe one of the most awesome things ever to happen in history? Oh yes. I skipped after the floating dustmite.
We looked at vinyl (I think he said David Bowie was his favorite artist... or son?), I talked about his ridiculous smoker's cough, got some ghost information, discussed the seriousness of his mole, and lamented about his awesome boots (i.e. how a ghost floats in boots yet still wears them in like they've kicked the entire state of New York's asses.) He was like a long lost ... dead person. But not dead. Just like this really cool person... really drunk, cool person.
And he didn't care that I called him "Phyllis Diller" or that I slurred my words. He just smiled at me and said very nice things to me. "You're so pretty," he said using his eyes. His mole told me I was funny. His hair laughed at one of my jokes and told me I was too pretty to be single. You know... Come to think of it, I actually think he may have been sent to me by the Saints of Cinco de Mayo. The real ones. Like, saved for when someone is having a very bad, very sad Cinco de Mayo and so she gets the best gift of all from the Saints... the best Fantasma ever! Of course...
So eventually my brother had to kick him out. But he did so reluctantly. It was hard on them both. I was like, "Ahhh, dude, I left for two seconds and you blew it." (What? We were having SO much fun. I'm serious.)
As he politely escorted Phyllis down the hall, I heard my brother say, "I know dude, but you can't hit on my girlfriend. That's MY girlfriend." And then the ghost of Phyllis Diller offered up his death rattle for me one last time... a cold, long, echo-y, death rattle that shook the hallways of the entire building and will never be forgotten... (Nor will the hole he burned in my car with his cigarette.)
Phyllis Diller. I swear to hell. Maybe next year. Hasta entonces, descansa. El sueño, fantasma dulce.